Laced with intrigue, scandal, and dirty office politics. The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on Never Enough
With its share of powerful women, Washington, D.C., is no longer just a boys' club. But when it comes to mixing the personal with the political, three glamorous go-getters discover that some things never change. . .
Just when Sherise's career at the White Houseand her troubled marriageseem back on track, a political opponent and a secret from the past threaten to derail both. . ..Determined to recover from scandal after an affair with a client, Billie has moved on to a new law firmbut her appetite for power and revenge may destroy her relationship with her new manand her daughter. . ..When Erica goes to work for Sherise's opposition, their friendship is tested. But when she also uncovers the truth about a long buried betrayal, it will have shocking consequences for everyone involved. . .
"This page-turner is set in the world of Washington, D.C., power brokersand the three leading ladies are taking names! RT Book Reviews on Almost Doesn't Count
"A drama-filled story of friendship and lies." APOOO Book Club on Back on Top
About the Author
Angela Winters is the national bestselling author of Back on Top, A Price to Pay, and Gone Too Far, among other titles. Angela, a leadership executive, is a member of several writers' groups. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area. Visit her at AngelaWinters.com.
Read an Excerpt
NOTHING TO LOSE
By ANGELA WINTERS
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2013 Angela Winters
All rights reserved.
Everyone in the room at the Marriott hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., thought today was a great day for the governor of the state of Maryland, Jerry Northman. Twenty-nine-year-old Sherise Robinson knew better. Today was a great day for her. And although all eyes were on the man standing at the podium, who had just announced his decision to run for president of the United States, Sherise was feeling like the center of the universe.
It was a fault of hers, really. She knew that. She was too often overconfident and self-centered for her own good. That's what her friends had always told her. But she was no fool. Having been a player in the game of D.C. politics, in some role or another since she was a teenager living on the southeast side, Sherise learned that if you don't make it all about you, no one else will.
That lesson never became more clear to her than when she'd taken time off from her career as a communications professional with the White House's Domestic Policy Council to focus on saving her marriage to her lobbyist husband, Justin, and having a second baby. She had lost her way and allowed another man to convince her he was worth risking her marriage for. It was a terrible mistake, but Sherise didn't want to put herself down for it. After all, the man was Jonah Nolan, one of the most powerful men in the country.
Fortunately, she was able to keep this indiscretion from blowing up in her face and ruining the charmed life she had with her husband and baby girl, Cady.
What she wasn't able to keep from imploding was her career. Out of sight, out of mind, was the way of Washington power brokering. You can jump ship for another or go off on your own, but you can't disappear and expect people to care about you. Sherise was a woman whose stunning beauty usually made her the most memorable woman at any event she attended. Being forgotten was not a space she was willing to occupy.
This was why, when the Northman campaign offered her a chance to showcase her press management skills eight months ago, just as he was forming an exploratory committee, Sherise jumped at the chance. She didn't bother asking Justin because she knew he would be against it. Their marriage was becoming a mess because of her unhappiness with her stay-at-home mom status and inability to get pregnant. Oh yes, and there was that part about Justin having an affair.
Details, Sherise told herself. A bright smile lit up her beautiful face, the highlight of her flawless appearance. She was a golden caramel stunner, with silky dark brown hair that went to her bra strap. Her high cheekbones, full, sultry lips and piercing green eyes caught every man's eyes, as well as her trim figure with killer curves.
She watched Northman smile for the pictures, just the way she'd taught him. She was wicked for finding joy in the fact that he was wearing the red tie that she gave him instead of the blue one his wife, Ginger, standing next to him with a saccharine smile, had given him earlier that day. Yes, even though this ball had gotten rolling long before Sherise joined, she knew she could take a lot of credit for where it was now.
That fact was also obvious in the look of beaming approval from LaKeisha Wilson, Northman's deputy campaign manager, as she joined Sherise at the far side of the podium.
LaKeisha was a very average-looking woman, but she had chocolate skin as smooth as a baby's bottom, despite being in her late thirties. She barely wore any makeup and dressed sharp, as any woman who had spent her life on Capitol Hill in D.C. did. She had recently cut her long braids and was now wearing a short, stylish cut.
"What are you so happy about?" LaKeisha asked.
"Same thing you are," Sherise responded in that smooth, soft voice she had. It was a tone that made women suspicious of her and men want to buy her a drink.
"It is exciting, isn't it?" LaKeisha asked. "We work well together."
That might not have always been the case. When LaKeisha first came to Sherise, it wasn't because the younger woman's name was mentioned in the power circles of D.C. communications. Despite having a husband who was an active and successful lobbyist, Sherise was having a hard time getting invites to the power events in D.C.
No, Sherise's name was on the tip of LaKeisha's tongue because Jennifer Ross had placed it there—the woman who was having an affair with Justin. Jennifer had been the wife of Ryan Hodgkins. Hodgkins was a man Sherise had slept with early in her marriage. It was suspected he might be the real father of Sherise's daughter, Cady. It was only one night, and both Ryan and Sherise cut all ties the day after, but Ryan eventually spilled the truth to Jennifer during their messy divorce.
Instead of finding Sherise and trying to beat her head into the ground, like most women would do, Jennifer decided to get back at Sherise by sleeping with her husband. With the way things were between Justin and Sherise at the time, he was ripe for the picking.
It was during this madness that LaKeisha approached Sherise. Despite taking her up on the offer to help out the Northman campaign, Sherise was more distracted than ever before. Her reputation for being immaculate in her work style took some blows, which LaKeisha was around to witness firsthand. Although she never found out the truth behind Sherise's momentary lapse of professionalism, there were times when LaKeisha doubted Sherise still had it.
Those doubts had been obliterated. Sherise had gotten Jennifer out of the way, via exposing her plan to Justin and ruining her reputation beyond repair in the Washington Post. After that, Sherise was able to focus once again on her job. LaKeisha, Northman, and the rest of the team had nothing but impressive words to say since then.
"You're taking too much credit for this," LaKeisha said with a sly smile.
Sherise laughed. "I didn't even say anything."
"You don't have to," she answered back. "That smug expression on your face looks like you just made the entire press say your name before sitting back and smoking a cigarette."
Sherise had done an amazing job. She was able to increase Northman's exposure and make him a national name. No one outside of Maryland had even known who he was in the beginning. Now, even the prime minister of England mentioned him to the British press when discussing the future of American politics.
More important to Sherise, her name was being mentioned in the press, as she was giving several quotes a week. Now that Northman was officially announcing, Sherise's life was going to go into hyperdrive. This is what she'd wanted forever. She had fought and clawed her way up the ladder—sometimes playing by the rules, but more often by not obeying them. Either way, Sherise was an "end justifies the means" type of girl. When the "end" was her gaining more power and influence, the "means" were a mere afterthought.
"Let's go," LaKeisha ordered the second that Northman ended the conference and headed behind the curtain.
As Ginger darted off to her eagerly waiting grandchildren, LaKeisha latched onto Northman to inform him of the interview he was to do next with Washington Life, an interview Sherise had set up for him. She noticed Northman glance in her direction. He smiled and she smiled back, with a thumbs-up, keeping a bit of a distance. LaKeisha was very possessive of him and Sherise had learned to wait a few minutes before showing up. Whenever Sherise did show up,she immediately got Northman's attention. He was no different than any other man. This always bothered his wife and sometimes bothered LaKeisha.
As her phone vibrated in the pocket of her navy blue suit, Sherise shrugged her shoulders at the fact that women were always jealous of her beauty. She was going to use what she had, to get what she wanted, for as long as she had it. At least to an extent, she thought as she saw that the call was from her husband, Justin.
The end didn't always justify the means, she had to remind herself.
"Hello, baby," she said cheerily as she answered. "Did you watch it?"
"The TV is on in my office right now," Justin answered in that supportive tone he was so good at. "I saw you in the corner there. Looking good."
"As always," she said flirtatiously. He was in a good mood and that made her happy. "What's up?"
"Don't be angry," he said cautiously, "but I've got a late night at the office. You'll have to pick Cady up from day care."
Sherise's first instinct was to complain, but she bit her tongue. It wasn't fair, but she had to pick her battles. When their marriage was in a better place, its best place, Sherise could get whatever she wanted. Justin would bend over backward to accommodate her, to compromise for her. She was demanding and spoiled, and that was the way she liked it. That was the way it was supposed to be. She made Justin happy, and he gave her everything she wanted.
Things changed after her affair with Jonah Nolan. Almost getting caught, she realized what she could lose and focused on trying to make Justin happy. She lost herself and he lost interest in her, making it easy for him to stray. After he'd found out about Ryan and the possibility that Cady wasn't his, Justin wanted nothing to do with Sherise. At least for a while.
Sherise had spent a lifetime getting what she wanted. She always got what she wanted, no matter what she had to do to get it. She used every trick in the book and set aside her own pride to repair her marriage. It seemed as if Justin was trying hard too. They saw a marriage counselor once a week for a few months. They both needed to be forgiven, and they were both willing to do just that for Cady.
Sherise knew as soon as she'd gotten Justin back in her bed, he would be hers again. She could always distract him with sex and mold him in the way she wanted. Now that no one else was distracting him that way, he would be all hers again. She didn't expect it to take another four months before he'd move back home. However, what was important was that he was there and the three of them were a family again.
Sherise knew things were still raw between her and Justin. She felt immense guilt for not revealing her affair with Jonah to him. She just couldn't. With his affair with Jennifer exposing what she'd done with Ryan, Sherise could play both their mistakes as equal. If she revealed she'd had a second affair after that, Justin would have left her forever. She wouldn't let that happen. Cady was going to grow up with an intact family—a family with two loving, supportive parents. It was everything Sherise never had.
So Sherise bit her tongue. Justin was hers again, she knew that, but there was still that little voice in the back of her head that told her there was still work to be done. Too much had gone wrong.
"When do you think you'll be home?" Sherise asked in a sweet, loving voice.
"Can't say," he answered. "We have some new people on the team from our L.A. office, and ... well, just don't wait up."
"I'll wait up," she said, "because I love you and can't go to sleep without you by my side."
This was true. After sleeping alone for a while, Sherise remembered how much she hated it.
"I love you too, baby."
Just then, Northman emerged from a crowd of people and made his way toward Sherise, with LaKeisha nipping at his heels.
"I have to go, baby," Sherise said quickly. "Northman is calling for me."
She hung up before he could say good-bye; she hoped he wasn't upset about that. She knew that Northman wasn't going to wait for her to finish her call—he never did. He'd just start talking; and if you missed, that was a problem for you. By the time he reached her, she had already shoved her phone into her pocket.
"That was great, don't you think?" he asked.
Jerry Northman was a tall, distinguished-looking man in his early fifties. True to his last name, his Nordic heritage was evident in his blond hair and blue eyes. He was a handsome man, and he looked as if he'd been on the lucky side of everything his whole life. His only visible flaw was an extra fifteen pounds, but Sherise had done a lot to conceal that with the new wardrobe she'd gotten him.
"You were great," Sherise said proudly. "They're lining up outside for interviews. Can I assume you want Fox News first again, or shall we go with NBC?"
"Whatever you suggest," he said, waving his hand. "They only get ten minutes. My family and I want to go out and celebrate."
"Of course," Sherise said.
"Go get the first reporter," LaKeisha ordered.
Just as Sherise turned to leave, Northman called after her. When she turned around, she saw a wide smile on his face. Not the usual political smile, but a real one—it was one that was rarely seen.
"Sherise, we'll be getting a lot more funding, now that I've officially declared." Northman reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder. "I think it's time you stop acting as a consultant and come on board full-time."
Sherise realized what he was asking and her eyes lit up with excitement. "Um ... do you—"
"Yes," Northman said as if sensing what she was going to ask. "I want you to join our team formally as my communications chief. What do you say?"
Sherise noticed that LaKeisha wasn't at all happy at the sight of his hand still on her shoulder, but she ignored it.
"Well, I ..."
"She's been wanting this forever," LaKeisha said. She stepped closer to the two of them, which forced Northman to remove his hand to make room for her. She looked at Sherise, seeming annoyed with her hesitation. "Haven't you?"
"Of course," Sherise answered, but things were different now.
She had to consider Justin. In the past, she did what she wanted and just convinced Justin—sometimes with a nice dinner or great sex—to go along. They had a new dynamic now.
"I'll have to discuss this with my husband," she said. "I assume this will require more of my time and hours."
"And travel," Northman said. "All of that. We're on full go now. No stopping us on our way to the White House."
As he turned to leave, with LaKeisha rushing after him, it really hit Sherise what had just happened. Of course, she'd expected Northman to ask her to join the campaign formally. However, now that he had, it dawned on her. If he won, he would be the president of the United States, and she would be in the White House. That was the top. That was the height of everything. She would be one of the most powerful people in Washington, D.C.
Not bad for a girl from Southeast D.C. whom everyone expected to be another sad statistic.
"Are you gonna finish that?" Lane Redmond asked as he pointed across the table at Brasserie Beck on K Street in D.C.
Thirty-year-old Billie Carter laughed as she slid what was left of her croque-monsieur with French fries across the table to her friend and client.
"It's like law school all over again," she said. "You used to eat all my food then too."
Billie and Lane had met when they worked together on the American Criminal Law Review at Georgetown Law. She hadn't expected to have much in common with Lane at first. She was a poor African-American girl from southeastern D.C., who had to fight and scrap for everything she had. She had committed herself to fighting for the voiceless and powerless who were railroaded by a flawed criminal justice system.
On the other hand, Lane was a blond-haired, blue-eyed trust fund kid from private schools in New York, who wanted to follow in his rich daddy's footsteps defending the richest of the rich, who were "unjustly targeted by a flawed justice system."
Despite coming from, and intending to go into, two different worlds, they clicked instantly and had kept in touch since graduating.
"I was doing you a favor," Lane said. "I wanted to make sure you kept that perfect, little, petite figure. I see you have. I'll take some credit for that."
Billie had to laugh at that. Yes, she was still the petite, dark chocolate, beautiful woman she had been back in school. Her looks were defined by fine, feminine features, large, mesmerizing eyes, and short, curly hair. She didn't look much older than she had when she'd graduated either. She had aged immensely on the inside, though. Some of that, Lane knew about. Some of it, he didn't, and he wasn't going to.
It had been a rough year for Billie. After trying desperately to move on from her divorce with celebrated D.C. lawyer Porter Haas, whom she had also met in law school, Billie continued to find herself caught in his web. This was mostly because Porter, despite cheating on her with a blond bimbo from his law firm, refused to let her go. It was also because of Porter's teenaged daughter, Tara. Billie loved Tara and refused to cut her out of her life, despite the problems it caused with Porter.
Excerpted from NOTHING TO LOSE by ANGELA WINTERS. Copyright © 2013 Angela Winters. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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